You would have thought the Dallas Cowboys had just lost in a blowout.
The right side of the Cowboys locker room — the defensive side — was talking with mostly hushed tones and misgiving despite having just beat the Washington Redskins 31-26 Thursday afternoon at AT&T Stadium.
The somewhat somber mood, despite improving to a league-best 10-1, came after the Cowboys allowed a season-high 505 yards, including a season-high 449 passing yards to Kirk Cousins. It’s the most passing yards allowed by Dallas since Matthew Stafford threw for 488 yards on Oct. 27, 2013.
“No, it wasn’t a really good game for the defense,” Defensive end Tyrone Crawford said. “We gave up too many points, period. We have to limit that. We can’t let that happen.”
We know individually we can do better. We gave up too many passes and we didn’t get enough pressure and there’s no excuse for that. Yeah, we’re 10-1 but we have a lot of stuff we need to clean up and get better at.
Defensive lineman David Irving
Cousins, who was 41 of 53 with three touchdown passes and no interceptions, wasn’t sacked as the Cowboys primarily rushed only three men most of the game. It was his second game with over 400 yards passing this season and third of his career. Sunday’s 120.7 quarterback rating is the sixth best of his career.
But the Cowboys kept the Redskins out of the end zone early and led 17-6 at the half. An offensive holding call help harpoon the Skins’ first drive which ended with a missed 43-yard field goal. Cousins led a 10-play, 75-yard drive on their next possession but the Cowboys held them to a field goal after escaping a 1st and goal at the 5. Their habit of bending but not breaking played out again despite a fourth consecutive game without a takeaway.
“No, that is not our philosophy. That has never been talked about in one meeting,” corner back Orlando Scandrick said. “We just have to play better. There’s no damn bend but don’t break. We want to go out and dominate and get turnovers.”
At the moment, however, it’s an apt description.
“For right now, yeah. Hopefully we can keep it going the rest of the season but you’re only as good as your last game,” Defensive tackle Cedric Thornton said. “We definitely want to get sacks as defensive lineman but the ultimate goal is to win and we won. [Defensive coordinator Rod] Marinelli wants to get sacks, we just didn’t get them this game. We held it down for our DBs and they usually hold it down for us. Hopefully we can put it together next game.”
505 Season-high total yards allowed by the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday, including a season-high 449 passing yards by Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins.
It’s the first time in 2016 the Cowboys were held without a sack.
“We started off strong and then they got rolling there towards the end but keeping them out of the end zone at any point in the game is always good and to do it at the beginning was good to help our offense get rolling and get up a little bit,” Crawford said. “I want to get W’s more than I want to get sacks.”
Lee intercepted Cousins pass on a two-point conversion attempt early in the fourth that held the Cowboys’ lead at 17-12. In the box score, though, the Cowboys don’t get credit for the turnover.
“It’s on our minds, we talk about it on the daily,” Brandon Carr said of takeaways. “It’s all about just figuring out when those opportunities come in the game and when they come, we’ve got to take advantage of them. So many times we’ve had balls in our hands, had opportunities to create those turnovers in the past few games, and just couldn’t come up with the play. If you come down with those plays, the tide of the game changes.”